It’s 22 years ago to the day that the one and only Ali Dia made his first and last Premier League appearance for Southampton.
The story goes that Dia had somehow tricked Saints boss Graeme Souness into thinking that he was the cousin of George Weah, who had just won the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year awards in 1995.
He had also claimed he’d turned out for Paris Saint-Germain, had played 13 times for his country and scored for them.
But despite it all being completely fabricated, Dia blagged his way into a one-month contract and even made an appearance in the Premier League.
On November 23 1996, Dia, wearing the No.33 shirt, replaced Matt Le Tissier in a home game against Leeds at the Dell after the Saints legend picked up a first half injury.
But he was so bad he was substituted himself for Ken Monkou in the 85th minute in a 2-0 loss. It quickly became apparent that Dia was a fraud and he then had his deal rescinded after one cameo appearance.
Le Tissier gave a priceless account of the legendary tale in his autobiography.
“It was unbelievable. He ran around the pitch like Bambi on ice,” Le Tissier writes, as per the Liverpool Echo.
It was very, very embarrassing to watch. Souness actually had to take him off again because he was actually that bad.
“I have no idea if he was George Weah’s cousin or not. I don’t think he was. He was just chuffed to get out on the pitch and play. I think it was a great wind up from someone who came up with this idea.
“He turned up the next morning for treatment on an injury, the physio was telling me. So Sunday morning he turns up, has a bit of treatment, he leaves and then we never see him again. He never came back. He just left. Nobody knows where he went. Never to be seen again.
“It was very odd. Not quite sure how a man of Graeme’s experience fell for that.”
The Ali Dia story is one of the greatest in football history, but you might be surprised to learn that similar has happened in the modern game.
Earlier this year, Lithuanian side FK Panevėžys signed a player based on his profile on Wikipedia, even though it was all fake.
They announced the signing of Barkley Miguel Panzo and going off their statement on their official website, thought it was a bit of a marquee signing.
Panzo is a real footballer, in fact he is verified on Instagram, but a lot of the stats and information on his Wikipedia profile are not and it led to him getting his next career move.
Not only is he listed as an Angola international, his page also stated that he played for QPR in the Championship between 2010 and 2012, scoring 45 goals in 36 games. Of course, it never happened.